Industrial 3D Scanners: A Complete Guide

Industrial 3D scanners have revolutionized numerous fields, from manufacturing to cultural preservation. They utilize cutting-edge technology to create accurate, digital three-dimensional models of real-world objects. Using light or lasers to measure the object’s physical properties, these scanners render high-resolution 3D images, aiding in precision tasks across numerous industries.

The usage of industrial 3D scanners spans multiple sectors and industries, proving its versatility and value. For instance, in manufacturing, they are crucial for ensuring quality control, aiding in the precise inspection of parts, and speeding up production. In architecture and construction, 3D scanners help create accurate digital blueprints of structures for planning and renovation purposes. The healthcare industry utilizes these scanners for precise body imaging, custom prosthetics creation, and more.

Types of Industrial 3D Scanners

One of the most remarkable aspects of industrial 3D scanners is their diversity. These scanners come in various types based on different operational principles and are tailored to fit various industry-specific requirements. Understanding their unique strengths and drawbacks allows us to match the appropriate scanner type to specific applications, maximizing the effectiveness of our 3D scanning endeavors.

Structured Light Scanners

Structured Light Scanners, or Optical Scanners, project a series of linear patterns onto an object. The scanner’s camera captures the distortion of these patterns by the object’s surface geometry. This information allows the scanner’s software to calculate the distance between the scanner and each point on the surface. The result is a highly accurate 3D representation of the object.

Pros of Structured Light Scanners:

  • They offer high precision, often achieving submillimeter accuracy, which enables capturing intricate details effectively.
  • They are widely used in quality control and inspection tasks where high precision is vital.
  • They are generally safe for human exposure, employing visible or harmless infrared light.

On the downside, structured light scanners can be affected by ambient light and may struggle with reflective or transparent materials. Also, large objects or areas may take longer to scan due to the localized nature of the scanning process.

Laser Scanners

When it comes to industrial 3D scanning, products like Surphaser’s suite of scanners – encompassing the Ultra Short Range 75HSX / 80HSX, Medium Range 100HSX SR and IR, and the Long Range 10HSX / 410HSX – are at the forefront, employing advanced laser technology.

The operation of these scanners is both elegant and efficient, involving a laser beam that is directed onto the surface of an object. The scanner measures the time it takes for the light to reflect back to its source, then determines the distance based on the constant speed of light, ensuring accurate and reliable results. Here are some of its advantages:

  • Superior Area Coverage

Laser scanners can capture large areas quickly and effectively. This ability makes them an invaluable tool for projects that require comprehensive and efficient scanning.

  • Wide Material Compatibility

Laser scanners are adept at handling a multitude of materials and surface types. Even surfaces that are typically challenging for structured light scanners can be accurately captured with Surphaser’s laser scanners.

  • Exceptional Versatility

Models like the Surphaser 80HSX have an impressive scanning range from 0.25m to 7m, yielding deep submillimeter noise and 3D error. This capability affords them a remarkable level of versatility across various applications, broadening their utility across multiple industries.

Phase Shift Scanners

A variant in the laser scanning family, Phase Shift Scanners, provides even more precision by calculating the distance based on changes in the phase of the light wave returned from the object. This technology offers the potential for submillimeter accuracy over distances of up to 50 meters, particularly useful in industrial and outdoor environments. For instance, our Surphaser® 100HSX SR and IR utilize this technology, delivering unparalleled accuracy with remarkable ease of use and mobility.

Laser scanners can initially appear complex, but this complexity is easily mitigated with proper training. Furthermore, safety concerns are minimal as Surphaser scanners use Class 1 lasers, deemed safe for any condition.

Time-of-Flight Scanners

Time-of-Flight scanners work similarly to laser scanners but are typically used for larger-scale applications. These scanners emit a laser pulse, and the time it takes for the pulse to return after hitting the object is used to calculate the distance.

These scanners excel in large-scale and long-range scanning applications, such as scanning buildings, landscapes, or large industrial installations. However, they often lack the high resolution and detail capture of other scanning methods, making them less suited for intricate, detailed parts.

Photogrammetry Scanners

Photogrammetry relies on taking a series of 2D photographs from different angles and using software to stitch these images together, creating a 3D model. It measures the distance between various points in the images to create the depth necessary for a 3D model.

Photogrammetry is highly flexible and can be used on various scales, from small objects to entire landscapes. However, it typically offers lower accuracy than laser or structured light scanners and is sensitive to lighting and environmental conditions.

The choice of scanner depends on several factors, including the scale of the object or environment, the level of detail required, the material and optical properties of the target, and the environmental conditions in which the scanner will operate. Therefore, a thorough understanding of these scanner types and their strengths and limitations can guide you in selecting the most suitable scanner for your needs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Industrial 3D Scanner

When selecting an industrial 3D scanner for your project or business, various considerations should shape your decision. It’s critical to understand that one size doesn’t fit all. Therefore, your unique project needs should determine the ideal scanner. Here are some pivotal factors you should keep in mind:

Accuracy and Precision

Industrial 3D scanners, like our Surphaser line, are designed to produce precise, accurate results across various applications, including reverse engineering, dimensional control, and historical preservation. The Surphaser models deliver unmatched accuracy, with deep submillimeter noise and 3D error, ensuring that your scans are as accurate as possible.

Scan Speed and Resolution

A scanner’s speed and resolution are critical when working on extensive projects. Surphaser scanners come with varying scanning ranges and speeds, delivering up to 832,000 points per second, significantly improving productivity without compromising resolution or detail.

Scan Volume and Portability

The scale of your scanning tasks is vital, and having a scanner that matches your demands is crucial. Surphaser models, such as the 75HSX/80HSX and the 100HSX, are designed with portability in mind without compromising their capacity to handle a variety of scan volumes, making them a perfect fit for various industries.

Ease of Use and Compatibility

Ease of use can be an essential factor, especially if the user hasn’t undergone extensive training. The scanner should also be compatible with the software you intend to use.

Surphaser scanners are easy to set up and operate, ensuring that even individuals without extensive training can use them effectively. Additionally, their compatibility with various software applications enhances the usability and functionality of these scanners across different platforms.

Cost and Return on Investment (ROI)

The cost of the scanner should be weighed against the benefits it will bring to your business. Cheaper scanners might lack certain features, while more expensive ones may offer better performance or more advanced features. Our industrial 3D scanners are a worthwhile investment for any industry and provide advanced features, reliability, and unmatched performance, delivering significant ROI.

Software and Data Processing Capabilities

The scanner’s software should be easy to use and powerful enough to handle the data you plan to capture. Consider also whether the scanner can export data to formats compatible with other software you plan to use.

Surphaser scanners come with comprehensive software designed to manage and process a large amount of data. Moreover, they can export data to various formats compatible with other software.

Support and Training Options

Lastly, consider the support and training offered by the scanner manufacturer. Manufacturer support can be invaluable if you encounter problems with the device, and proper training can ensure you get the most out of your scanner.

At Surphaser, we believe in not just providing quality products but also comprehensive support and training to our clients. Our team of experts is always ready to help you navigate any challenges you might encounter with our scanners.

Industrial 3D Scanning Process

To understand why industrial 3D scanners are such crucial tools, it’s essential to break down the 3D scanning process. From pre-scanning preparations to post-processing and data analysis, each step plays a significant role in ensuring the quality and accuracy of the data captured.

Pre-Scanning Preparation

Before using industrial 3D scanners, it’s crucial to clean and prepare the object for scanning. This helps ensure that the scanner can capture all necessary details. For instance, the Surphaser® range of scanners is designed for utmost accuracy, capturing even the minutest details.

After preparing the object, setting up the scanning environment is the next step. The Surphaser scanners’ robust construction allows for operation even in tough industrial and outdoor environments.

Scanning Techniques and Best Practices

Once the object and the environment are prepared, scan alignment and registration are key. Our Surphaser scanners are easy to set up and come equipped with integrated 5MP cameras for accurate alignment.

Capturing and processing the scans is made easy with Surphaser scanners. Even challenging objects or surfaces can be handled with ease due to their superior range, speed, and resolution.

Post-Processing and Data Analysis

After the scanning process, mesh generation, point cloud processing, and surface reconstruction are integral steps in the industrial 3D scanning process. Our Surphaser scanners offer high-speed scanning with deep sub-millimeter noise and 3D error, ensuring high-quality post-processing.

The final step involves extracting measurements and features from the scanned data for further use in applications like reverse engineering, dimensional control, and quality control.

Applications of Industrial 3D Scanners

In the rapidly evolving world of technology, the invaluable contribution of industrial 3D scanners cannot be overstated. As an enabling tool, these devices are reshaping numerous sectors, redefining traditional methods, and setting new standards for accuracy and efficiency.

Quality Control and Inspection

In the manufacturing industry, maintaining high product quality is paramount. Industrial 3D scanners, known for their accuracy, are extensively used for quality control and inspection. Their non-contact measurement capabilities ensure that even the most delicate parts can be evaluated without the risk of physical damage. They provide precise, non-contact measurements of parts, enabling the detection of defects and deviations from the original design with speed and efficiency.

For example, our Surphaser® line of scanners is recognized for its exceptional accuracy and scan quality. The 75HSX and 80HSX ultra short-range models are frequently employed in quality control, offering submillimeter noise and 3D error, scanning ranges up to 2.5m and 7m, respectively, ensuring products meet strict industry standards.

Reverse Engineering and Prototyping

When it comes to reverse engineering and prototyping, industrial 3D scanners have become a staple. Even in the world of 3D printing, these scanners prove indispensable, as they provide accurate 3D models that serve as the basis for print designs. They can quickly and accurately capture the dimensions of an object, offering a digital model that engineers can manipulate and alter to create new designs or improvements.

Take the Surphaser® 100HSX SR and IR models; these are perfect for high-accuracy applications. As medium-range scanners, they are adept at capturing detailed scans of larger objects and spaces, making them exceptionally versatile. With submillimeter accuracy and scan ranges from 1m to 50m, they provide precise 3D data for accurate reverse engineering.

Product Design and Development

From brainstorming to final production, industrial 3D scanners play an instrumental role in product design and development. They facilitate rapid prototyping, enabling designers to create, test, and modify products more quickly and effectively.

Cultural Heritage Preservation

For applications in cultural heritage preservation, industrial 3D scanners offer a non-invasive way to digitally preserve historical artifacts and sites. Our long-range Surphaser® 10HSX and 410HSX models, known for their unrivaled accuracy and scan quality, are perfect for this purpose. With scan ranges up to 110m, they allow researchers to capture detailed 3D models of large structures or sites with minimal physical interaction.

Medical and Healthcare

In the medical and healthcare industries, 3D scanners are used for applications like custom prosthetics, orthotics, and preoperative planning. With the precise measurements these scanners provide, healthcare professionals can create custom-fit devices and plan surgical procedures more accurately, leading to better patient outcomes.

Architecture, Construction, and Engineering

In the architecture, construction, and engineering industries, 3D scanning technology provides invaluable tools for surveying, planning, and designing structures. With the detailed and accurate data these scanners provide, architects and engineers can create more precise and realistic designs, reducing the likelihood of costly errors during construction.

Advancements and Trends in Industrial 3D Scanning

The dynamic realm of industrial 3D scanning is characterized by continuous technological advancements and innovations, providing unprecedented solutions that shape industry practices.

Multi-Sensor Fusion Technology

Another major trend in the industry is the integration of multi-sensor fusion technology. This involves the combination of different sensors (like optical, laser, and touch probe) to capture comprehensive 3D data, enhancing the quality of the scan and providing more detailed information about the object or environment.

Automation and Integration with Robotics

Industrial 3D scanners are also becoming more integrated with automation and robotics. This combination enables high-speed, high-accuracy scanning in production lines, improving efficiency and reducing the likelihood of errors.

Real-time and In-situ Scanning

Real-time and in-situ scanning allow for immediate feedback during the scanning process. This technology is instrumental in manufacturing and quality control industries where immediate action can be taken based on the scan results.

Phase Shift Technology

In the ever-evolving landscape of 3D scanning, Phase Shift Scanning remains strong due to its exceptional accuracy and versatility. The trend is seeing scanners like our Surphaser® 100HSX SR and IR playing an increasing role in applications demanding high precision and robustness. Coupled with the capability of integrating a high-resolution camera system, they are paving the way for visually rich, high-accuracy scanning applications across industries.

Industry-Specific Applications and Solutions

With the rapid advancements in 3D scanning technology, we’re seeing more industry-specific applications and solutions. For example, higher-resolution and speed scanners are being developed for industries requiring more detailed data or quicker scanning times.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about our top-of-the-line 3D industrial scanners:

  • What is the cost range for industrial 3D scanners?

The cost of industrial 3D scanners can vary significantly, influenced by factors like technology type, functionality, and accuracy level. High-quality scanners, such as the Surphaser® line, may warrant a larger initial investment, but they offer an excellent return on investment through their superior performance, reliability, and advanced features.

  • How long does it take to perform a 3D scan?

The duration for performing a 3D scan depends on the object or area size and the level of detail required. For example, Surphaser® scanners, renowned for their speed, can deliver up to 832,000 points per second, which significantly accelerates the scanning process without compromising on detail.

  • Can industrial 3D scanners scan large objects?

Absolutely! Industrial 3D scanners are capable of scanning objects of various sizes. Scanners like the Surphaser® line include models that are designed specifically for capturing large objects and areas effectively, such as the Long Range 10HSX / 410HSX.

  • Are industrial 3D scanners suitable for outdoor use?

Yes, many industrial 3D scanners are designed for use in both indoor and outdoor environments. For instance, the robust construction of Surphaser® scanners allows operation even in challenging industrial and outdoor conditions.

  • What software is commonly used for processing 3D scans?

A variety of software applications are used for processing 3D scans. The choice of software largely depends on the intended use of the 3D data. Surphaser® scanners, for instance, are compatible with various software applications, enhancing their versatility across different platforms.


The landscape of industrial 3D scanning technology is varied and complex, comprising an array of devices that range from Structured Light Scanners to Laser, Time-of-Flight, and Photogrammetry Scanners. Each of these scanners brings unique advantages, challenges, and ideal applications, offering options for unprecedented precision and versatility in diverse sectors.

Determining the ideal fit requires carefully evaluating multiple criteria, including scan speed, accuracy, resolution, scan volume, and ease of use. As the field advances, trends such as the integration of robotics and multi-sensor fusion technology are transforming the industry, redefining the limits of efficiency and accuracy in industrial 3D scanning.

Connect with Surphaser’s team of experts to unlock the full potential of 3D scanning technology in your sector. Your path to superior accuracy and efficiency begins here.

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